From agents offering editing services to Amazon Jimmy Gordon offers his entertaining view of the publishing world.

I must say I have been completely lost as far as topic for today’s post goes. But, since this seems to be more of a site for writers than readers I thought we might discuss just where we are going, where our lives in literature are concerned.

GUEST POST BY JIMMY GORDON

author of Dartboard




I often read that changes in the field of literature move along at a pretty slow pace. However, I can’t agree with that I have witnessed the dynamic of this business change, well, dynamically! Once I had blundered through that first book, upon the strike of the very last key, I really had no idea where to move from there. How does one get a book published? I turned to the internet and typed in a simple search: ‘how does one publish their first book’? Naturally, one of the vanity presses popped up, and not knowing any better, I jumped on board without any idea that an author taking that road for publishing would be scorned, dragged out into the streets, their books burned, and their backs lashed out in the courtyard just for having the nerve to ask a bookseller to sell their self-published stuff, even on consignment!

That was just ten years ago, and look what’s happening now: there are folks like J. A. Konrath setting the traditional form of publishing aside to self-publish on their own. And other big name stars seem to be following his lead. But how does that help the small fry? I’ve read Joe’s blog, and don’t get me wrong, I love the guy. In fact, his name and words are on the cover of my current book in the form of a blurb. In his blog he talks about the sales he’s making without the need to cut an agent or a publisher in on his booty. I imagine for many of us, all of us who have insulated our homes with rejection letters from publishers and agents, it offers a little bit of hope that we can make it big. But should it? After all, yes, these folks are self-publishing, but they’ve had the benefit of publishing with a large publishing house. They didn’t enter the self-publishing arena as a complete no-name starting from scratch. Their audiences had already been built. So I ask, is this new trend one to be embraced? Or should we stiffen up our backsides and keep sending out those emails and letters to publishers and agents?

Let’s talk about those agents. I already mentioned the rejection letters. How often has any writer found themselves staring at their inbox, seeing that one agent’s email address, the one that seemed interested, and not wanting to open it because you just know you’ll get the “I’m sorry, it’s not you, it’s me” routine?. I’ve been there.

Another tough spot is one that hit me twice. You think you land an agent, you even work through some edits, but eventually, “Well, Jim, there have been some big changes in the industry. If this was two years ago, I’d take you on. I just didn’t see this coming.” That sucked.Those rejects finally prompted me to take a look at the hundreds of small, independent publishers out there. In my opinion, I think this road is a mighty fine road to travel. There are so many of these small presses and each one seems to know their niche in the market. I had so many stories from my big press friends… after their book was published; they had a quick meeting with a PR person, and were patted on their behinds, and told to go sell their book. Only the bestsellers get the full boat PR treatment, does that make any sense whatsoever?

The big guys are already big, folks will buy their stuff regardless, no? Isn’t a publisher dooming their investment by sending a first timer out in the cold with nothing but a match and sheet of one-ply toilet paper to keep them warm? I’ve found it might be just as tough to land a quality small press as is it to land that agent, but there seems to be hundreds to choose from, they all seem to fill a niche or two, they know their market. I must say, I’m happy to have found a home in the small press world. I often wonder if others feel the same.

A little irony where agents are concerned: has anyone noticed, in the hard times for the book biz, that many agents have turned to offering editing, or book doctor services on the side? Andy, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about others, not you, you’re top notch! Anyhow, I think I’ve now opened my inbox three or four times now and found an agent spamming me, saying they now offer editorial services to non-clients at stellar rates; that stellar rate being something like $200.00 an hour. I’ll tell you this, it felt mighty fine to click reply and tell these folks that they are just not the right fit for me at this point in time. Has anyone else come across this?

Finally, I think my word count is running short here, so let’s talk about those brick and mortar stores and their e cousins like Amazon. The ones that sell actual printed books compared with the Kindle-type of books. Again, let’s go back ten years to when I just stepped into literature. The ebook was still considered trash. A comment like “Hey, I got an offer for a publishing contract. Yeah, it’s for an ebook.” Well, I think we all know what the reaction would look like—a kind nod and a sniff of rotten eggs.

I’m not sure that will be the case anymore. I really think e publishers/Kindle/Nook type of publishers will be a totally respected form of publishing, if it isn’t already. Of course, I’m not sure e-publishing can really be considered cheap or inexpensive publishing, the books will still need dynamite cover art and primo editing, and that’s pretty big money stuff where publishers are concerned. So there is no printing cost. Perhaps that money can be used for marketing. One of my books, Kritterkreep,  is offered in ebook through Kindle and the Nook. My next kids’ book, Field of Screams, will be along shortly. There’s seems to be a new trend in marketing authors who have more than one book to peddle, giving the Kindle edition away for free a month or two prior to the release of the next book. I had several conversations with other writers about this tactic and I’ve heard nothing but good things. Has anyone out there had a similar experience to share? I am totally excited to see how it goes. I’m hoping the folks who publish my adult stuff will follow suit and offer the same.

As far as paper books go, and the brick and mortar stores, I’m thinking the book to the Nook will be like the horse to the auto. As soon as those gas-driven machines hit those old dirt roads, the horse was kicked off the path as the primary form of transportation. While I may use the hell out of my car, every now and then, from time to time, it’s a blast to jump into the saddle and hit the dusty trail. We’ve seen the death of Borders, a huge blow to the marketability of print books; think of how much shelf space was lost practically overnight. Will Barnes and Noble and other nationwide chains survive, or will we be a Kindle world with the occasional paper book read for kicks, picked up from a dusty shelf in a small downtown’s independent bookstore?

I think humans, in general, are resistant to change, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the future of this industry. I can’t wait to see where things land. Anyone else feel the same?

Genre Adult/Adventure

1776: An English payroll ship loses sight of its convoy and wrecks on the shoals of a small, remote Caribbean island during a terrible storm, marooning its crew and a small group of soldiers. After rescuing the gold and burying it on the island, they are overrun by a tribe of cannibals, leaving the treasure hidden… Today: Jimmy Quigley, a small town cop, inherits a boat and a treasure map from his Uncle Jackson, a renowned world explorer. He hooks up with Evelyn Quinn, who also received a small inheritance from his uncle. He heads to the Caribbean with Evelyn and her friend, Kristin, and his friend, Rick, for some fun in the sun and a possible treasure hunt. When the boat is ransacked by thieves not once, but twice, Jimmy wonders if his uncle’s warning to watch his back has more to it than he first thought. With his friends’ safety and the fate of the Lorraine gold in mind, Jimmy heads off into the biggest adventure of his life…
New to blogging is firefighter and paramedic-turned-author Jimmy (J.D.) Gordon. He was born and raised in Chicago  and lives with his wife and children in Glen Ellyn IL, a suburb of Chicago. He writes in two different genres: adventure for adults and paranormal spooky stuff for middle school children from age nine until, and above, twelve years. 


Unlike many writers (most seem to catch the writing bug early in life) Jimmy only began writing as a hobby ten years ago. But skip back twenty or thirty years and you’d find someone who thought they’d never write a book! Jimmy was the lousy student in the back of class, avoiding the teacher’s gaze! 

Jimmy Gordon dropped into the world of literature quite literally. After falling off a train and breaking his knee Jimmy had to spend time recuperating, and his peers asked what he planned to with  his new-found free time. And Jimmy said the words that he now claims to have changed his life: “I should write a book.”

Despite some skepticism (“You don’t even use punctuation on your run reports!”), he completed a novel, Island Bound, and made it a point to use punctuation throughout – good idea!

But then he had another accident, sustained on the job, which ended his career in the fire service and the rest, as they say, is history.

Aside from writing Gordon spends his spring and summer as an umpire for high school and youth baseball. He now lives with his wife and children in Glen Ellyn IL, a suburb of Chicago. 

Editor Sean Hayden talks to us about ORIGINS

A Demonkin Novel
Ashlyn Thorn was born different. She was born with all the characteristics of a vampire, but in a world where vampires, elves, and werewolves work, play, and die side by side with normal humans, everyone knows vampires aren’t born, they’re made. The only thing she ever wanted is to know her true Origins. Ashlyn’s tale takes her on a quest to find out what makes her different and to find out the truth, but with every question she gets answered, she uncovers more uncertainties.
 To make things worse she makes enemies of the most powerful vampires of the city who consider her powers to dangerous to let go unchecked. She is saved by the government only to be trained and used to serve their purposes, and Ashlyn finds herself torn between two worlds. She can either be a monster, or help fight the monsters.

 
 
 
Not only did Sean Hayden bag a contract to have the Demonkin Series published with Echelon press he was offered a job too, which eventually became a senior editor within the company. Now that’s what I call a book deal! See

post about Echelon Press where he shares his knowledge of “life as an editor”.
He says, “After an extensive search for an agent and publisher, debating self publishing, and massive amounts of hair loss, I finally found Echelon Press, a small Indie publisher out of Maryland.”
 
Sean started writing about a year and a half ago. His debut novel, Origins is an urban fantasy about vampires, how they came to be, why there are different breeds, and the main character Ashlyn. If you want to look at what the book is about, Sean has a website devoted to the series as well as an author website.
He received the contract for Origins, which is out this month. He has finished the sequel, Deceptions and has received a contract for that, as well. He has also penned a steampunk short called Lady Dorn.
 

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B004MYFS5M&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat inspired you to write your book?
I’ve been an avid reader for almost my whole life. Growing up it wasn’t TV that fascinated me, it was the written word. I remember reading a book one day. I had gone to B&N and bought the whole series without reading the first one. Needless to say, I got about halfway through the first book before setting it down and never picking it up again. “I could do better than that,” I said. I finally gave it a shot. Origins is my result.

What is it about? Genre etc.
Origins is pure Urban Fantasy. Within its pages you will find that vampires, werewolves, elves, and every other fantasy creature is alive and well and working, playing, and dying right beside everyday humans. Some are good, some aren’t. I have taken all the legends surrounding vampires and explained the differences as them being different subspecies. Origins focuses around the central character, Ashlyn. She is the newest subspecies. She’s quite a bit different and that makes her a target with the rest of the vampire community.

Was there a character you struggled with?
Struggles? Oh, yes. Struggles aplenty. The one thing that stands out the most to me was with Ashlyn, the MC. She was hidden for the first few years of her life and had very limited contact with the outside world. That made things very difficult in writing her. Every time she did something in the story, I had to stop and think, “Would she know how to do this?” The other issue came with setting her above the other kinds of vampires. I had to make her more powerful, but not perfect. That was difficult at times.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Actually, NONE. I wrote Origins and submitted. It’s due out Feb 15th. The sequel Deceptions is written and contracted. I wrote a steampunk short called Lady Dorn and it is also under contract. I’m currently working on a steampunk short series for YA readers as well as a YA urban fantasy called Soul Seeker.

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
Writing a book was easy. Getting it into the hands of the reader was like scaling Mt Kilamanjaro with two broken legs. My book was written and I started querying agents. That was a complete waste of time. Know how many agents are even willing to read your work if you’re previously unpublished? Ya, not many. I didn’t even find one in fact. So after wasting six months of my life on that, I decided to go for the gold and look for a publisher. I figured I would spend some time on the slushpile, but that’s the price to pay for glory. I queried all the big publishing houses. The results were the same as looking for an agent. They won’t even look at your work if your previously unpublished. Then I found a website called duotrope.com. If you’re looking for smaller publishing houses, I highly recommend starting there. I queried two publishers, and they said, “We’d love to look at your work but we are afraid your genre is over written at this time.” Okay. Then I found Echelon Press. They’re a small Indi Pub out of Maryland. The owner of the company is named Karen Syed. I could go on for hours about how wonderful they are. I am completely happy there and the owner treats her authors with respect, dignity, and like they were family.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
The best part of being a writer is getting to tell my stories. I love that people are going to hold my book in their hand and read something I WROTE. It’s kind of heady. The worst part of being a writer is the frustration of finding time to do it. I work as a fiber-optic engineer during the day, and that leaves little time to write, especially with two kids and a wife at home.

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
Believe it or not, my lunch break. I seem to get more written in that hour than the other 23 hours in the day.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer
I’m a digital kid. Paper just wastes trees. I don’t even make notes, jot down ideas, or outline. I sit at the computer, open my file, and start writing. I have no idea what the characters are doing next, or even where the story is going.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
What if’s. I make it a game and did a blog stop for a friend explaining where i draw my inspiration. It’s all around, but you have to play the “what if” game. For example, you’re walking down the street and you see a squirrel run up a tree. “What if” that squirrel wasn’t really a squirrel, but an alien scout sent with squirrel cloaking, sent to earth to subjugate us before its imperial overlords land? See, inspiration can come from anywhere.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
Absolutely not. With as hectic as my life is, I write when I can. To set goals would be a self induced lesson in disappointment.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
World domination…oh, wait I’m NOT supposed to talk about that. Actually I mentioned before about the steampunk YA short series I’m writing. I’m going to have to leave it at that. Details I’m not allowed to share, but I’m writing it with my 11yo son and he is super excited about it. The other item I have in the works is a YA urban fantasy about making bad choices and getting exactly what you wish for.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
With a shot of bourbon. Just kidding. Kind of. I don’t usually deal well with rejection. I pout for a while and then realize that everything happens for a reason and that you cant please everybody at the same time. Some people will love what you’ve written and others won’t. It’s the nature of the human persona.

Do you have a critique partner?
Actually, I do. She’s another author/editor with Echelon Press. I never submit or revise anything without sending to her first. I owe a great deal to her for catching mistakes AFTER something’s been edited. I do the same for her when she needs it.

About Demonkin Series:
What age group is the Demonkin series geared towards and what genre?
 Its geared towards adults. The main character is young, but she is thrust into the world of adulthood at an early age. It would seem that all the vampire series out there are meant for YA readers. Adults are infatuated by vampires, too. I wrote this book for them. It’s fun, it’s edgy, it’s sometimes dark, but never gloomy or full of angst.


Tell us a little about the series? Do I have to read book one, before I reach for book two etc? How many books are there to be?
The series is centered around the main character Ashlyn Thorn. She was born with all the traits of a vampire, but everybody knows vampires are made, not born. She knows she is something different, but she hasn’t got a clue about her true origins. The series follows her life as she is picked up by the FBI to help police the supernatural world and learns a little more about herself every day. The second book is complete and under contract and is entitled Deceptions. It’s not necessary to read the first one before picking up the second one, but I would recommend it. As for how long the series is, I never plan ahead. Demonkin is my favorite project, and I plan on keeping it going as long as there’s somebody who wants to hear what happens next.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
We pulled up to another vampire club a few miles away after an uneventful ride in a nondescript cargo van. Didn’t these people believe in offices? They could have spiffy names like the vampire offices of Dewey, Bitem, and Howe. The van pulled into an employee parking lot in the rear of the building and my escorts ushered me to the back door. Demitri knocked three times, and the door opened. I gasped at the more impressive muscle standing before me; they stood taller than the bouncers I had seen at Fangloria’s. The vampire wore what looked like a 1920’s gangster approved pinstripe suit and hat. I thought it might be a personal attire choice until I saw the two behind him wearing similar outfits. Either I had entered a themed club, or I really stood before prohibition era vampires.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/family or by real-life experiences?
 My family has always been my inspiration for writing, but my characters are pure fiction. I try to throw a little of me into each of them, but as they progress, they become more unique on their own.

Can you sum the series in one sentence?
Demonkin is a fast paced thrill ride centered around a new breed of vampire.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Mine is Ashlyn’s partner, Thompson. He is grumpy and cool, and just fun to write.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Characters definitely. You could have the most exciting story in the world, but if your characters are weak, unlikeable, or unbelievable, everything will fall apart.

Prior to being contracted to Echelon Press, had you submitted to traditional publishers?
When I finished writing Origins, I did some research. Everybody told me that in order to get published with a traditional publisher, you had to have an agent. I spent the first five months of my writing career querying agents. Vampires were in such popularity at the time, I couldn’t even get an agent to read my manuscript, so I gave up on the traditional publishing route. I did query Penguin Books and Tor, but I didn’t expect anything to come from them and I wasn’t disappointed when they didn’t even ask for a submission. That’s when I decided to look for a really good independent publisher.

Do you have an agent?
No, I do not. I spent a good portion of my life just trying to get one to read my manuscript, and now I’m a little thankful none did. I’ve seen too many authors who do have agents, that are getting absolutely nowhere. Now they are stuck in a contract with an agent and counting the days until their contract expires so they can find an independent publisher. It’s kind of scary how the publishing world is changing.

Will Origins be available only as an ebook?
It comes out Feb 15th as an eBook, but will be available in paperback shortly thereafter. I don’t know the exact release date of the paperback as of yet.

Are there any upcoming signings or appearances you’d like to mention?
 I’m planning on attending Readercon in July and the South Carolina Book Festival later this year. In April, I’m planning on doing a virtual signing at Calico Books via webcam. As for local signings, etc, I’m waiting til the paperback comes out and plan on touring most of my home state, Florida as I can schedule.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
Blog tours, marketing materials, social media, I plan on being on the radio for an interview, press releases, forums, you name it. If it’s out there, I have tried it or will try it. Marketing is without a doubt the most quintessential key to success. I could not stress this more. You can not rely on word of mouth to get your book out there to the masses.

You have written a steampunk short called Lady Dorn, what is steampunk exactly? How does it differ from fantasy or science fiction?
I’ve been asked this question a lot as of late. When you hear the term steampunk, think of Jules Verne. It can be set in any time period, but everyone should have technology that is anachronistic. Steam powered cell phones. Brass computers with typewriter keys. Flying dirigibles attached to wooden naval ships. The possibilities are endless. I’ve actually started writing a series of steampunk shorts with my 11yo son geared toward younger readers. The Magnificent Steam Carnival of Professor Pelusian Minus. The whole genre is growing in popularity every day. I can see why. It’s fun to read, but absolutely fantastic to write. Think of it as rewriting history as it would have been if you could travel back in time and give key players technological advancements.

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